Ronan Farrow looks at Elon Musk's influence on foreign policy, defense, and more

The article is about 10K words. Here are 3 snips.

“Even though Musk is not technically a diplomat or statesman, I felt it was important to treat him as such, given the influence he had on this issue,” Kahl told me. SpaceX, Musk’s space-exploration company, had for months been providing Internet access across Ukraine, allowing the country’s forces to plan attacks and to defend themselves. But, in recent days, the forces had found their connectivity severed as they entered territory contested by Russia. More alarmingly, SpaceX had recently given the Pentagon an ultimatum: if it didn’t assume the cost of providing service in Ukraine, which the company calculated at some four hundred million dollars annually, it would cut off access. “We started to get a little panicked,” the senior defense official, one of four who described the standoff to me, recalled. Musk “could turn it off at any given moment. And that would have real operational impact for the Ukrainians.”

The senior defense official said, “We had a whole series of meetings internal to the department to try to figure out what we could do about this.” Musk’s singular role presented unfamiliar challenges, as did the government’s role as intermediary. “It wasn’t like we could hold him in breach of contract or something,” the official continued. The Pentagon would need to reach a contractual arrangement with SpaceX so that, at the very least, Musk “couldn’t wake up one morning and just decide, like, he didn’t want to do this anymore.” Kahl added, “It was kind of a way for us to lock in services across Ukraine. It could at least prevent Musk from turning off the switch altogether.”

But Musk’s influence is more brazen and expansive. There is little precedent for a civilian’s becoming the arbiter of a war between nations in such a granular way, or for the degree of dependency that the U.S. now has on Musk in a variety of fields, from the future of energy and transportation to the exploration of space. SpaceX is currently the sole means by which nasa transports crew from U.S. soil into space, a situation that will persist for at least another year. The government’s plan to move the auto industry toward electric cars requires increasing access to charging stations along America’s highways. But this rests on the actions of another Musk enterprise, Tesla. The automaker has seeded so much of the country with its proprietary charging stations that the Biden Administration relaxed an early push for a universal charging standard disliked by Musk. His stations are eligible for billions of dollars in subsidies, so long as Tesla makes them compatible with the other charging standard.


I have never seen anything Ronan Farrow has written that I like. He was interviewed years ago about Woody Allen and said no way he did it for XYZ reasons. He was accurate and honest in his reasoning. Then years later he rescinded every word of it to write a book and launch his career on TV.

Musk is providing exceptional service. The government clearly owes Tesla and Space X the monies. Including subsidies that are purposefully with cost/benefit analysis created to enhance behaviors we need as a nation.

Ronan the profiteer probably wont crack an econ textbook ever. His twisted opinions as usual are suspect instead of having a straight forward plain spoken honesty.

We blame people for following simplistic ideas planted as purposeful lying. That is not carte blanche to have more conspiracy theories because we do not like someone’s ideas.

If we were going to attack Musk on econ grounds good luck finding a case for it. If we are going to attack Musk on environmental grounds good luck finding a case for it. I get the CO2 foot print for space launches are huge. But the returns on earth probably cut fossil fuels. For instance GPS cuts miles traveled erroneously.

The win in Ukraine to come stops a major fallout later as Russia would become more belligerent widening Putin’s wars. The waste from that would be stunning. A broadening out of war by Putin in the future would vastly increase the odds of nuclear weapons being used. Far worse.


Good for Elon.

I don’t see Lockheed Martin or Boeing giving $400 million worth of free services to Ukraine. Other defense contractors expect to be paid for every thing they do, usually with an outrageous mark-up.

I believe Boeing’s failed Starliner spacecraft costs 3 or 4 times as much per trip to the space station as SpaceX’s vehicle. And Boeing still hasn’t been certified for a manned flight. Fortunately, Boeing has a fixed-price contract and will have to eat the extra billion or two they’ll have to spend to get it right.



Starlink is not a defense contractor. What was it before Russia invaded Ukraine? A telecom company using satellites. It still is.

Ukraine was able to figure out how to use Starlink to its advantage. You know, like Tesla uses GPS to its advantage. Fee exchange? Or??


Elon donated a bunch of Starlink ground stations to Ukraine with the provision that they be used for defensive purposes only. I believe he also repositioned some satellites to aid in that effort. When Ukraine started operating the Starlink equipment within disputed Russian territory, Elon geofenced their access to the satellites, prompting complaints from both Ukraine and US Defense officials. If you’re accepting charitable donations, you need to accept the terms of the donation if you expect the money and equipment to continue to flow.



It is not nearly that simple.

Friend of mine property manages over 6000 units of rentals. During the pandemic he can not evict anyone. The deal is the government has to pay him to issue that order. Late in the day the government gets paperwork from his tenants. His staff helped them all with the paperwork and the management company got paid all the rents through the state of CT.

The Pentagon is using Starlink. Who you kidding? The US is plotting most of the ordinance used in this war on Ukraine’s side. The communications etc…drones at sea and on land…all of it. Or we whisper in Ukraine’s ear and they more directly sometimes use Starlink. This would be a war of attrition otherwise and Ukraine would lose.


Heh, who says it is really worth $400 million?

We sure do love our robber barons - especially those that are charitable. We name buildings and colleges after them.

Sure seems like we never learn the lesson of becoming too dependent on them for critical infrastructure.


Has nothing to do with loving Elon.

To the penny is it worth $400 million? I do not know but yes in that ballpark it would seem to me.

I am not seeing any other figures out there but there is this…

If any of you supplied hot dogs to the military I want you paid.

You would have a written contract, so getting paid is the easy part. Fulfilling the contract is the hard part.

1 Like